Hurricanes rock the Vulcans in inaugural 35-plus baseball game

By Bruce Karnick
Posted 5/9/24

Hastings alum and long-time radio voice of Raider sports, Nick Tuckner, also has a major love of baseball. It might be hyperbole to say his love of baseball is close to his love for his Raiders, but …

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Hurricanes rock the Vulcans in inaugural 35-plus baseball game


Hastings alum and long-time radio voice of Raider sports, Nick Tuckner, also has a major love of baseball. It might be hyperbole to say his love of baseball is close to his love for his Raiders, but it might not. Tuckner played for the Raiders during his time at Hastings High School, then he played for the Cottage Grove Coyotes who are in a league similar to the Hastings Hawks. He then played for the Hastings Hawks and before this season, he was part of the Metro Mammoths, a team in the 35-plus league.
Tuckner had been debating whether or not to start a team for Hastings in the 35-plus league for a few seasons, but a small number of doubts and uncertainties caused him to hesitate to pull the proverbial trigger. That was until the end of the 2023 season, his first summer without his father Chris, when he made the leap of faith.
“Dad and I always thought it would be neat to have a team in Hastings similar to the Mammoth, where guys that are a bit more seasoned can keep playing the game. Getting to win two State Titles in three seasons with the Mammoth made me really dream about Hastings having something like that. Before Dad passed, baseball was always something that brought us together, especially when I played. There were always the phone calls after the games even when he couldn't come out to watch anymore. After we lost him to cancer after a 20+ year heroic battle, I knew that this was my best way to honor the man who instilled my love for the game at a very young age,” explained Tuckner
Once Tuckner made the first pitch to the public via social media, support poured in and there was no turning back. First, they had to decide on a team name and colors, find players and sponsors, and get a social media page setup.
The ‘Hastings 35+ Baseball’ page was created, and the first post was on Aug. 29, 2023. One of the first posts to go up was a poll to pick the team name.
“"We had a few names that were thrown around, even some that were tossed in there by other local baseball fans,” said Tuckner. “Names like the Hawgs and Hippos were out there, but those were a bit goofy for me. No, we don't have Hurricanes in Minnesota, but we wanted a cool logo, with the H-H alliteration, so we went with the Hurricanes. Longtime Coyotes and Mammoth Teammate Hans Heggernes then started the design process and came up with our wicked logo."
The name was quickly narrowed down and on Sept. 5, The Hastings Hurricanes were officially born with a release of the logo and team colors: Purple, Black, White and Yellow with an H in the middle of the eye of the hurricane’s swirls.
The next few months for Tuckner were a whirlwind of emotions and activities. Building an amateur baseball team from the ground up is a very complicated task. There are a ton of moving pieces behind the scenes; creating the actual business and all the legal paperwork associated with that, assembling the roster, attending the league meetings and adherence to their rules, finding sponsors, ordering supplies like uniforms, baseballs, bats, helmets, catcher’s gear and more. One of the more stressful aspects of running a team is the schedule. You have to find teams to play, then work around the schedule of not just the 15-20 teams you will play, but for home games, you have to work around the schedule of the other 80-plus games already scheduled at Veterans Park. Thankfully, Tuckner had people to lean on.
"You really can't start a new baseball team from scratch alone,” he said. “Much of the off-the-field business was handled by my wife, Erica, and myself since late last September when we started this journey, but everybody from the Hastings Hawks organization, Hastings High School Baseball, the East Metro Mammoth, and Federal League have all been instrumental in getting this off the ground. When you have a bunch of folks there running the concession stand, public address and just making sure the game goes off without a hitch, we are so grateful to all of the volunteers that have been there as we build this thing.”

The work put in was worth it. May 5, 2024 arrived and it was opening day for the Hurricanes at Vets Park.
"Opening Day was a blur, to be honest. Texts started rolling in Sunday morning around 7 a.m., from former teammates and supporters, so that really got me going, and from there it was all adrenaline,” laughed Tuckner. “It's hard to shut off that valve in my body once I get my mind cranked up. I was almost sick I was so nervous and excited, and that didn't go away until the final pitch on Sunday."
Mayor Mary Fasbender came out to support the Hurricanes by throwing out the inaugural ceremonial first pitch and Hastings native, Umpire Jameson Heaston bellowed out the hallowed words of ‘PLAY BALL!’ and the Canes were officially a baseball team playing their first real baseball game against the Veseli Vulcans.
"Seeing all these guys, all HASTINGS guys in a Hastings uniform again, running on to the field together was one of the most satisfying and happy moments of my life. I'd lie if I said I didn't have a few happy tears on and off throughout the game, but that first run on to the field was something none of us will forget," he added.
That magical moment was followed-up by some excellent baseball. The Canes jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first, and they kept their foot on the gas scoring two in the second, third, and fifth innings. Former Raider, Derrick Pfeffer, started on the mound and pitched four innings, allowing only two hits with no runs and eight strikeouts. Hastings won 9-2, holding the Vulcans to just six hits while logging 11 hits of their own. The Vulcans broke the shutout in the top of the seventh inning, but the excitement of winning the inaugural game trumped losing the shutout.
The first-ever Hurricanes roster to take the field at Vets Park is Derrick Pfeffer (P), Nate Otto (C), Nick Tuckner (1B), Mikey Bauer (2B), Brent Kompelien (SS), Taylor Pagel (3B), Jordy Horsch (LF), Daniel Castillo (CF) and Steve Bahl (RF). The rest of the roster for opening day was able to hit the field as well and two players were able to get their first-ever hit in an amateur game, both Shane Lanning and Jacob Lingle logged singles.
Every player on the Hurricanes roster made it on the field for their historic first game, and it’s safe to assume that Chris Tuckner was smiling watching the Hurricanes rock the Vulcans 9-2.
In the game, Horsch went 2-for-2 with two runs and two stolen bases, Otto hit a monster triple, Bahl went 2-for-3 with two runs and two innings pitched.
Hawks Manager Shawn Matson joined the game after the Hawks trip to Northfield and he logged a single and some time at first base.
The next chance to catch the Hurricanes at home is Sunday, May 12 at 6:00 p.m. directly following the Hastings Hawks game which begins at 2:00 p.m. This is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a low-cost, family-friendly way to get dinner and entertainment.